Today we have a wonderful guest post by former Inkette Jessica Corra, anthology editor for Queens & Courtesans!
And over to Jessica Corra…
I’m so excited to share Queens & Courtesans with you today. Anthologies are a great way to sample new authors, but how do they happen?
I’d like to talk about the behind-the-scenes of putting together Q&C. Many people assume editors are fussy grammarians or craft geniuses, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But what editors really are is picky. Our concern for detail is what helps authors take their books to the next level in a lot of cases. And in the case of anthologies, it’s what makes them flow no matter how disparate the authors are.
Length of Tales
An obvious place to begin is word count. This can be a stumbling block for authors, but having a three-page story and a thirty-page story in the same anthology could be incongruous, no matter your theme. We asked our authors to stay between 3500 and 6500 words. (Writers use word count, not page count, by the way, but as an Anxiety Ink reader I suspect you know that.) That way there’s still a variety without any one story dominating through length, or others being lost.
Sequencing of Stories
Once the stories are edited and I know their final version word counts, I can put them in order, which is the absolute fun part. I’ll have started doing this beforehand, but depending on how edits go, changes might be made. For an anthology like this where stories center around a particular theme but aren’t all the same genre, I took a look at what genres I had: Q&C features two science fiction, one horror, and eight fantasy stories. Obviously we don’t want to put all the fantasy stories together and clump the rest, so that automatically meant certain authors wouldn’t be next to each other. Then I factored in word count too. The sci-fi stories were somewhat short, so having middle to longer length fantasies around them helps create an ebb and flow.
More than one of the fantasy stories use similar tropes, so those had to be separated too. Getting the idea? It’s like playing a game of wordy Tetris. How fun is that? Of course, depending on the effect you want to create on the reader, maybe you put stories with similar tropes together, to play off each other. I knew I had to put Ellie Zygmunt’s “The Wren and the Nightingale” first because of the way it uses the nature of story, I thought that would be a wonderful way to kick things off, to clue the reader in to pay attention to how these stories are told, not just the stories themselves. But that meant “The Queen’s Dove” wouldn’t be second, due to the bird theme.
Reader, I even used Excel. I made a spreadsheet with theme, genre, word count, and some other personal notes for myself to consider as I put these stories in order. As you can see, a lot more goes into creating anthologies than you might expect. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed editing!